February 11, 2014
A study conducted by the American Transport Research Institute (ATRI) found an overall reduction in the "severity and frequency" of truck accidents. One of the contributing factors for this statistic may be a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration program called the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative. The CSA gives safety scores to carriers, and a low safety score could lead to shutting down operations. Other safety factors include truck monitoring systems, and new technology that companies use to track their fleet and assess fuel consumption. This technology can also ensure that drivers are in compliance with hours of service (HOS) requirements and it keeps them from making unannounced stops that could lead to reckless behavior.
Truck drivers might not like the idea of having monitoring systems on board their rigs, but this new technology could address major truck safety concerns. A recent study published in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Prevention found that commercial trucks account for roughly eight percent of all traffic on U.S. highways. However, the same study also said that 11 percent of all fatal crashes involve commercial trucks. This means that any increase in the amount of commercial trucks on the road can disproportionately raise the risk of fatal crashes.
GreedRoad is one of these new applications designed to improve safety and driver efficiency. The company claims that using their application leads to a "60 percent reduction in accident costs." Another video product called SmartDrive Systems allows trucking company managers to track driver behavior. They can see if drivers are tailgating, braking too hard, or doing anything else deemed unsafe.
Large carriers have also begun utilizing other built-in safety technologies on their fleets. Ryder System Inc., for example, uses a built-in breaking assist function that can automatically cause a truck to brake should vehicles or objects appear in its path of travel. This technology will likely cut down on rear-end crashes. Another built-in technology used by large fleets is axle control, which prevents rollover crashes if a trucker takes a turn with too much speed.
While it is true that this technology is primarily used by trucking companies to increase productivity, the safety aspect is a "beneficial side effect," according to a Forbes report. Despite some drivers feeling that these systems are too scrutinous, the technology is good for everyone. For example, this technology can not only exonerate truck drivers in disputed accidents, it can make the roads safer for the rest of us.